After a great deal of research, we have concluded that there isn't any other food or beverage on the planet that has as many health benefits as green tea. Aside from the fact that drinking tea has zero calories and tastes better than sugary carbonated beverages, green tea has become a major component of many health and beauty products. The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches and lethargy to depression.
Today, scientific research is substantiating the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. Here are just a few of the medical conditions in which drinking green tea has been shown to be helpful:
The secret in green tea lies in it's abundance of available catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful antioxidant. Research indicates EGCG inhibits growth of cancer cells and may kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.
The most promising use of green tea has been its effects on fats and cholesterol. Tests have shown green tea is exceedingly effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.
A correlation has been drawn between the effects of drinking green tea and the "French Paradox." Researchers were mystified for years by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in saturated fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. The answer was found in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. Researchers from the University of Kansas concluded that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is significantly low, even though in excess of seventy-five percent are smokers.
So why don't other teas have similar life changing health benefits? Green tea, oolong tea, and black tea all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. In particular, green tea leaves are steamed and then dried, preventing the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are processed from fermented leaves, resulting in the EGCG being transformed into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various conditions and diseases. This is not to say oolong tea and black tea do not have health benefits because that would be far from accurate.
What are Green Tea Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are compounds in tea leaves that are natural plant antioxidants. Antioxidants have been proven to prevent damage caused by free radicals to DNA and other molecules. Polyphenol (which include flavanols, flavandiols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids) may account for up to 30% of the dry weight of green tea leaves. Most of the green tea polyphenols are flavonols, commonly known as catechins. In addition to antioxidant activity, these compounds have shown promising results in reducing abnormal cell growth and inflammation; and assisting in riding the body of cancer-causing agents and restoring communication between different cells in the body.
The Facts on Cancer Prevention
Current data neither confirm nor refute a definitive cancer preventive role of green tea. Large randomized intervention trials on the efficacy of green tea polyphenols or extracts are required before a recommendation for green tea consumption for cancer prevention can be made. The relationship between green tea consumption and human cancer has been studied in several different populations and at various cancer sites. Some of the studies comparing green tea drinkers to non-green tea drinkers support the claim that drinking green tea does in fact prevent certain types of cancer. Certain dietary, environmental, and population differences may account for these discrepancies. In animal studies, different tea extracts, tea polyphenol mixtures, purified tea components, and tea infusions as the sole drinking fluid have more consistently been shown to prevent cancer, including cancers of the colon, esophagus, liver, stomach, lung, breast, pancreas, and skin.
How Much Tea Should I Drink?
There are as many answers to this question as there are researchers investigating the beneficial properties of green tea and polyphenols. There are approximately 240-320 mg of polyphenols in three cups of green tea. But given all the evidence from researcher, it is almost certainly safe and beneficial drinking four to five cups of green tea daily.
The Potential Unsafe Effects?
As of today, the only adverse side affect reported from drinking green tea is mild insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. On the other hand, green tea contains much less caffeine than coffee and most soda. There are approximately 30-60 mg of caffeine in six, eight ounce cups of tea, compared to over 100 mg in an eight ounce cup of coffee. Imagine the huge contrast in caffeine content between green tea and these 'new' high-tech energy drinks being consumed by the masses with such voracity.Don't buy the hype of oils and extracts, just relax and have a great cup of green tea! If you like your beverages cold, try a glass of iced green tea and mint with friends and family.
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